The Lakers remain in Salt Lake City, Utah to face the Jazz. The Lakers took one on the chin and lost a nail-biter. It was an ugly game for both teams, the Jazz fighting for their playoff lives and the Lakers seeking to take control of the series.
Give the Jazz credit for doing what they had to do to win the game. Keep in mind that in the closing seconds of the game the win was there for the taking and the Lakers didn’t capitalize on the opportunity.
It has to be mentioned that on the emphatic dunk by Carlos Boozer that put the Jazz up two points he clearly hooked Pau Gasol but was the beneficiary of a “home call” and the referee’s swallowing their whistles.
The Jazz are a solid team at home, finishing the regular season with the league’s fifth best home record, Utah got just what they wanted a close game. The Lakers have to deal with exactly what the coaching staff didn’t want to happen, a bad shooting night (36.8% from the field), the inability to hold another lead, being killed in the rebounding department and turning the ball over.
The real killer and culprit for the Lakers taking a loss was shooting 61.5% from the free throw line. There’s nothing more disgusting than losing a game by two points while shooting 16-26 from the charity stripe.
It was so bad that Kobe almost went through the entire first half scoreless; he finished the game with 18 points on five-for-24 shooting his lowest total since the 2004-2005 post-season. Andrew was ineffective, he had five fouls in seven minutes, and there is a good chance that he might come off the bench in this game.
The Lakers need to focus on playing with a sense of urgency, protecting leads and controlling the boards. The Lakers need to improve in this department; Carlos Boozer was a one man wrecking crew with 22 big rebounds in Game 3.
The Lakers have a size advantage and need to focus on boxing out Boozer and putting a body on a body. The Jazz defensively, made it a point to throw double-teams at Kobe and trap him frequently his teammates have to be aware of this and prepared to make Utah pay for using this tactic.
The Lakers need to limit the Jazz to one shot per possession, control the tempo, control the boards, get back in transition, rotate out to three point shooters and communicate on defense.
Once the Lakers get a lead they need to continue doing what got them the lead. L.A. needs to get back to using excellent ball movement and excellent player movement to find the open man. Playoff basketball has a lot to do with momentum swings and the Lakers need to gain the momentum and hold onto the lead and put this team away.
Tipoff: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: KCAL TV Channel 9 (Joel Myers & Stu Lanz) & TNT
- Utah: FSN Utah (Craig Bolerjack & Ron Boone)
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Utah: KFAN 1320 (“Hot” Rod Hundley )
- None to report.
- None to report.